The enduring cost of the Iraq invasion comes in the form of the thousands of dead Americans, and hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis. Technology shortfalls driven by the war will smooth out over time; the war didn’t cause the U.S. to “miss out” on any critical technological opportunities, instead simply delaying them. The biggest change likely comes in a reassertion of the traditional reticence of the American public towards foreign military intervention, a reticence that waned after the fall of the Soviet Union, but has again become a major factor in the making of American foreign policy. And if this reticence limits America’s strategic flexibility to make horrifically tragic mistakes, then some good can come out of the Iraq War.
Robert Farley is an assistant professor at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky. His work includes military doctrine, national security, and maritime affairs. He blogs at Lawyers, Guns and Money and Information Dissemination and The Diplomat. Follow him on Twitter:@drfarls.
This article first appeared in 2015.